The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse, which set off from Abu Dhabi on March 9 to make the first round-the-world tour, on Sunday has begun its pilot’s bid to cross the Pacific from China to Hawaii.
Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg is expected to finish his journey to the central Pacific destination in five to six days with the zero-fuel Solar Impulse aeroplane which is is slightly bigger than that of a jumbo jet, but its weight is around that of a family car.
Borschberg has undergone intensive training in preparation for the trip, including in yoga and self-hypnosis, allowing them to sleep for periods as short as 20 minutes but wake up feeling refreshed.
The pilot is linked to a control centre in Monaco where 65 weathermen, air traffic controllers and engineers are stationed.
The plane is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 meters , are longer than those of a jumbo jet and approaching those of an Airbus A380 superjumbo jet.Thanks to an innovative design, the lightweight carbon fibre aircraft weighs only 2.3 tonnes, about the same as a family 4X4 and less than one percent of the weight of the A380.
The Si2 is the first solar-powered aircraft able to stay aloft for several days and nights.
The propeller craft has four 17.5 horsepower electric motors with rechargeable lithium batteries.